Israel Peace Week Began on Israel’s 65th Birthday

Photo by Tziona Breitbart '16 | The Smith Israel Alliance held the annual Israel Peace Week this past week which included many events.

Photo by Tziona Breitbart ’16 | The Smith Israel Alliance held the annual Israel Peace Week this past week which included many events.

Tziona Breitbart ’16
Photo Editor

This past week the Smith Israel Alliance held the annual Israel Peace Week.  Israel Peace Week included various events that celebrate Israel in many ways.  Whether you follow the news about Israel or know very little about Israel, everyone at Smith was able to learn something new about Israel and its society.

The week’s celebrations began on Israel’s 65th birthday—Yom Haatzmaut.   To begin the week, Professor Michal Frenkel gave a lecture “The Zionist’s Case for Israel”.  On Tuesday night, UMass held an Israel Carnival which was attended by students from the five colleges.  On Wednesday, the alliance showed “Showing of Israel Inside”.  Finally, to end the peace week there was tie-dying “Israel Peace Week” t-shirts on Chapin Lawn.  Furthermore, the alliance tabled everyday in the Campus Center. Danya Bocarsly, President of Smith Israel Alliance ‘14J, expressed that, “One of the things that has the most impact is the t-shirts and tabling. Someone is at the table wearing the t-shirt so someone sees it so they remember the peace week about Israel.  They will hear Israel peace—they go together.” They were giving away Israel Peace t-shirts, “I love Israel” bracelets and sunglasses, informational packets, and pins.

While this event is annual, the Smith Israel Alliance took a different view on it this year.  This year they wanted to celebrate Israel Peace Week in a more exciting way than previous years that focused more on simply learning about Israel. Bocarsly said, “We chose to have a very relaxed peace week. Educational and cultural activities are more fun and relaxed because there is a lot of empathy on the campus.”

The alliance has hoped that the Israel Peace Week will not only portray Israel as a peaceful country, but also spread the word about their organization.  Bocarsly said, “We are a student organization that the Smith body wants and maybe through the programs, Smithies can learn something interesting and there is always more to be learned.” Through the programs the alliance hopes to “find ways to get people in the door and try to educate someone who does not know what is happening,” said Bocarsly.  For example, the alliance brought an Israeli Soldier to Smith who addressed the students in drag.  The alliance hoped to show students that the soldier is like everyone else and is willing to discuss any topic.

While bringing the soldier to campus did receive some backlash, Israel Peace Week overall did not receive any negative feedback.  Through the Peace Week, Bocarsly expressed that the alliance hoped that “people would start to see Israel as a peaceful country and that it is more than just a place of conflict.” She also expressed that, “I want to humanize it and I want us to be seen as people who everyone can relate to because we are not aliens.”

Israel is constantly under the watchful eye of the world, but the Smith Israel Alliance wanted to show Israel in a different light and not to focus on their political situations. “People in general have such negative connotations and ideas about Israel and Israel is also portrayed as the bad guy and it’s not—there is no good or bad guy, both countries have valid points,” said Bocarsly. The alliance believe that “its really important that we promote peace because the other side does not. The goal is not a political organization, but rather that we just love Israel.” The Peace Week has been used to celebrate Israel and all of its characteristics.

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